The Squint in the Sand

Chapter 1

Seeley Booth strolled into the Jeffersonian Medico-Legal Lab looking for his partner. The bright sun reflected off a myriad of shiny metal instruments and glass and Booth was tempted to put his sunglasses back on. He pulled a card out of his pocket and swiped it with a deft and practiced movement as he bounded up the steps to the platform. There was no one there. He exited the other side and headed for Dr. Brennan's office. There was soft jazz playing from Angela's office nearby as Booth entered Dr. Brennan's office.

"Hey, Bones..." The office was empty. He could see Dr. Brennan's bag against the desk so she was in the building somewhere. He strode off toward Angela's office. Angela was sitting at her computer with her back to him as he stuck his head in. "Hey sexy, she's in Limbo...alone" she said without turning around.

"Uh, thanks Angela." Booth called as he headed to Bone Storage. While he should have thought Angela's comment odd, it was Angela so he just ignored it. He passed Wendell as he left Angela's office.

"Good game Saturday, you see it?" Wendell asked as Booth clapped his shoulder.

"Nah, I had Parker at the playground. Bones still in Limbo?"

"Yeah, she hates it when we call it that though. Got a case?"

"I know she hates it." Booth cracked a wicked smile, "No, I have to collect her notes for a case file. See you later."

"Bye" Wendell chuckled as he imagined Booth annoying Dr. Brennan.

Booth walked into Bone Storage expecting his partner to be sitting at a table up front examining a skeleton but he couldn't see her. He started down an aisle. She was standing in front of a wall of giant apothecary drawers each with a set of unidentified human remains in it. She was holding a clipboard and a thick stack of files and was examining the case numbers on each of the drawers. She was biting her lip and lost in thought. Three separate thoughts flashed instantaneously through his head: startle her, move a drawer out and hide, she was awfully cute. He shook his head and decided to startle her.

"Bones!" She gasped and lost two of her files.

"Booth. You scared me." She scolded. Booth reached her and helped her pick up her files.

"Sorry, couldn't help myself. What are you working on?"

"Just getting ready to pull a box. You came for my notes?"

"Yeah. Decided not to root through the papers on your desk. Its been awhile since you kicked anybody and I didn't want to give you a reason to."

"I'm coming." She said distractedly as she tried to arrange a box and her stack of files in her arms.

"Let me." Booth sighed grabbing the box from her. "So who's this?"

"That's what I'm going to try and determine." Booth rolled his eyes and followed her.

Booth set the box on her couch as she set her stack on her desk and grabbed another file for him. Angela swooped in beaming.

"Sweetie, take Booth to lunch today, I have to do something."

"What do you need to do? I'm not that hungry, I can wait."

"No, it will be awhile. Booth, take her to lunch. See ya Sweetie." Angela was gone before ether of them could answer her.

"Lunch it is. Come on Bones." Booth said.

"I'm really not that hungry, its okay..."

"Nope, you heard the woman, take off that lab coat and lets go. I just have to file this first." Booth gestured with the file as he walked towards her. He put his hand on her shoulder with the intention of helping her out of the lab coat. He suddenly felt very self-conscious and dropped his hand. She had figured that he was going to make her go so she was already removing the coat. She glanced at him and sighed, completely oblivious to his sudden discomfort. She started out the door and he automatically placed his hand at the small of her back. Neither of them saw Angela peek out of her office and snicker.

"I think Angela is mad at me." Brennan said thoughtfully as she buckled her seatbelt.

"What?" Booth asked as he climbed into the driver's seat.

"Angela keeps canceling dates and she's been telling my to take you places. Maybe she's jealous."

"Maybe she's hiding a new beau."

"No, she always tells me. She is very open about her love life. She told me that Hodgins..."

"Bones!" Booth interrupted. "I don't want to know. I don't want to have to try and work with him if I hear what you two have been gossiping about." He paused for a moment, "Do you two gossip about me?"

"Not too much lately, you don't have a girlfriend and you don't discuss your sex life."


"You asked." Booth groaned and decided it would be best not to continue the conversation. Brennan glanced at him and noted he had a funny look on her face. She was confused by her emotions. She felt delighted at his discomfit and slightly guilty. It was an odd way to feel. I've been hanging out with Sweets too long, she thought to herself.

"How is Parker doing? How was your weekend with him?" Bones asked as they walked into the Hoover building.

"Good. We played football. He's trying to talk his mom into letting him go to a sleep-away camp. She says he's too young."

"Do you think he's too young?"

"I suppose. I just think he would have fun though."

"You know there's a science day-camp at the Jeffersonian. You could talk to Cam about it."

"Hey, he would like that." Booth crossed his office to collect his own file and Brennan picked up a picture off his desk. It was a picture of Booth and Parker at some kind of gathering. Booth was wrestling with Parker and someone had said something to make them both look at the camera mid-wrestle.

"This is new. Where was this?" She asked

"That was at his end-of-the-year picnic from school." Booth said cheerfully while he rooted through a mess of paper on his desk. Brennan stared thoughtfully at the picture. A gentle smile pulled at her mouth. She set the picture down and followed him out of the office. Charlie stopped them just outside Booth's office.

"Got something for you two." He said handing Booth a file with a bemused expression on his face. "Someone found something out in Virginia."

"Well that was descriptive." Brennan said.

"Bones, did you just use sarcasm?" Booth and Charlie looked dumbfounded.

"Yeah, I'm sorry. My dad and I were teasing this weekend and I was getting good at it. I guess I got used to it."

"I'm impressed." Booth looked at her with admiration. Charlie chuckled. Brennan looked at Charlie, slightly annoyed. She had assumed that he was chuckling at her, he was really chuckling at Booth.

"A scientist found what appear to be bone fragments. They were found in a sand pit on federal land just outside the town. I guess they all live in a group, like a commune."

"The bone fragments?" Brennan asked as she took the file from Booth.

"No, a bunch of scientists live on a commune. They just spend all day doing research or science stuff and have no outside lives. The local cops said they were really difficult to deal with."

"Imagine that." Booth said shooting Brennan a furtive look, hoping she would miss the sarcasm as usual.

"Why would we imagine it since we have to go talk to them anyway?" Brennan asked. Booth was relieved as he and Charlie exchanged looks.

"You guys should go undercover as married scientists who want to join their commune." Charlie ventured. Booth and Brennan both looked at him as though his head were green with purple polka dots.

"You're talking about The Walden Group. Its not a closed society. They read outside news and books. They speak at conferences, and publish. I know some of them. Being undercover won't help us get any information." Booth nodded and handed Charlie the report they had come to file. Charlie watched them walk to the elevator and thought to himself, I tried.

"I still say we could have stopped to eat."

"I don't want them to..."

"...compromise the remains. We don't even know if there are any more remains." Booth smiled warmly, she was nothing if not dedicated. "At least let me stop for some drive-through, we still have another 45 minutes of driving ahead of us. We can eat on the drive. Who knows when we'll get to eat once we are there. You know you hate to stop once you get started."

"Alright, but stop somewhere where I can get a salad." Brennan conceded. Her tone was one of exasperation but her face showed she was amused. He was really very thoughtful.

"So what is this Walden Group?"

"It is a group of scientists of many different disciplines and a few support staff that want to study and research without the interference of others."

"I thought you said they weren't a closed society."

"They're not all the way closed. They just want contact on their terms."

"Boy I bet they are mad at having cops and FBI everywhere." Brennan's phone started ringing.

"Brennan...Hi Angela." Brennan put it on speaker phone.

"Hi. You haven't come back from lunch yet and I was hoping..."

"Hey Angela." Booth said.

"Uh, hi Booth." Angela said, realizing she was on speaker phone.

"What were you hoping?" Booth asked Angela.

"Oh...uh, I was hoping you got a case or something. Its getting boring around here."

"Well, we might have a case." Brennan said. While Brennan talked with Angela about the case, Booth started thinking about how nice Brennan's voice was. He liked Angela, but she was animated and usually loud. Brennan's voice was soothing and even when she whined at him it was nice. Booth, what is with you? he asked himself. He was still lost in his own head when Brennan hung up.

"Booth, she's right. Booth? Hey Booth!"

"Huh? I'm sorry. What did you say?"

"I said she's right. The whole sand pit will probably have to be sifted for more bone fragments. Hodgins will be thrilled."

"From what it says in the file, they fragments are so small that its hard to say if they are even human."

"Bones from all vertebrates share many characteristics, the way they are made, basic structure; but there are differences too, shape, size, the density of the bone and markers like muscle attachments. Why are you laughing at me?"

"I have no doubt that you will be able to tell if they are human. I just meant that the forensic team on site may not. They may have called us out there for some animal's leftovers. There may be nothing to investigate."

"Oh." Brennan was too flustered by his flattery to be angry about him laughing at her.

"So, what are these scientists like, are they like Hodgins, with the conspiracies?"

"No. They want to be free of administrative issues and the press and they just want to work."

"Ever consider living here?"

"No, I'm an anthropologist. I study people, why would I live away from them?"

"Now don't take this the wrong way, but do they watch each other in order to keep the know, ethical?"

"Most scientists are out to conduct pure and ethical research, it really isn't necessary but yes, like any society they regulate member's behavior with laws. They are still subject to the laws of the United States and adhere to the conventions of ethical research." Brennan knew he wasn't trying to imply anything about scientists in general, but she was still a little ruffled. "Admittedly, like any sub-culture, they have views that differ from their cultural norm."

"A whole town of squints. So are these guys the best and brightest?" Booth teased.

"I object to the assumptions that the scientists are all men. Most of them are good scientists but not the best in their fields. They don't interact with the scientific community enough to have the connections that typically earn one acclaim."

"I didn't mean men, when I said guys." Brennan's phone rang. "I know there are women scientists. I spend all day with a beautiful forensic anthropologist who is the best."

"Brennan...Wait, you think I'm beautiful?" Damn, Booth thought, I hope that isn't Angela.

"You are beautiful Sweetie, its about time he noticed." This can't end well. Booth knew he was in trouble now, she had answered it on speaker phone.

"I just meant that..." Booth started.

"What's going on there?" Angela pressed.

"Booth thinks that most scientists are men." Brennan huffed.

"I do not, that's what I was saying. I work with women scientists at the Jeffersonian every day."

"I'm not a scientist, Brennan is hot, and you two should make this a weekend."

"Look at that, we're here." Booth announced shoving the SUV in park. He wasn't even going to attempt to salvage any dignity, he opened the door and ran.

"Why did you call Ange?" Brennan asked as she watched Booth escape.

"Hodgins wants to know if you want him to meet you there."

"He just wants to play in the sand. We may. I'll need to see what's going on first."

"Sweetie, it will be late by the time you guys are done. You should stay there and drive back in the morning." Angela knew she didn't have to be subtle with Brennan, she wouldn't get it anyway.

"We'll see Ange." Brennan tucked the phone in her pocket and headed towards Booth.